Custom Hawaiian Wood Furniture, Art & Home Finishes
For Ray Kobayashi, using Big Island wood in his houses is his passion. He built his own residence using locally grown koa, mango, eucalyptus, ohia and sugi pine on the walls and ceilings. Ray has now turned his talents to create rocking chairs, plant stands and other furniture. He also created jewelry and document boxes. The latest creations are sculptured vases, many of which he has named according to what he saw in them as he made them. These are the native woods that he has used:
MILO (Thespesia populnea), commonly known as the Portia tree elsewhere, is prized calabash wood because of its beautiful reddish brown colors. Finding milo that carpenter bees had made holes in, Ray saw potential art pieces and began his new and original “Bumble Bee Art series, including “Wise Guy” sayings, and the new “God” and “Double or Nothing” series of sculptures and vases.
KOA (Acacia koa): Koa trees are endemic to Hawaii and our most prized wood. Used by ancient Hawaiians to build canoes, paddles, spears and surfboards, it is now prized by woodworkers to create ukuleles, guitars and bowls. Koa is protected by our government and what is now sold for wood is from trees that have naturally fallen down or are ready to fall. Prices are now between $16 to $50 board feet (depending on the quality). We have used Koa in jewelry boxes and vases. Hues vary from golden yellow, red to chocolate brown with wavy lines and swirls and from light to dark
MANGO (Mangifera spp): Known mainly for its delicious fruit, this light golden blond colored wood has distinct multi-colored designs. Growers cut the trees down only after they cease to produce fruit.
SUGI PINE (Cryptomeria japonica): Also known as Japanese Cedar, sugi pine is the national tree of Japan. The wood for our boxes comes from a huge tree grown in Honokaa. The original designs, colors and smells make this type of wood truly unique.
EAST INDIAN ROSEWOOD (Dalbergia latifolia) is distinguished by its purple-brownish color with distinguished grains. Imported from Indonesia, the wood is an excellent turning wood.
MONKEYPOD (Samanea Saman) is a beautiful, umbrella-shaped tree, also known as the Raintree because its leaves fold up at night or during periods of heavy rainfall. Can be found along Bayfront Hilo. Very versatile and durable; colors often look like Koa.